Margao: ATK Mohun Bagan continued their fine run in the Indian Super League (ISL) with a comfortable 2-0 victory over NorthEast United FC at the Fatorda Stadium here on Sunday. The victory alss saw ATKMB reclaim the top spot ahead of Mumbai City FC.
In a match that often turned into a physical affair - six yellow cards were handed out - a seven-minute double early in the second half settled things in favour of the Kolkata outfit.
Fijian striker Roy Krishna scored his first goal from open play in nearly a month in the 51st minute. Soon, in the 58th minute, an own-goal from Benjamin Lambot increased ATKMB's lead.
Antonio Lopez Habas made two changes to his ATKMB line-up with Sahil Sheikh making his first Hero ISL start. NEUFC coach Gerard Nus changed things around with five changes to his starting eleven.
It was ATKMB who started brighter, keeping the ball and looking the more threatening of the two teams. However, they struggled to convert the control they had over the match into chances with NEUFC offering dogged resistance. They had a free-kick in a threatening position in the 18th minute when Krishna was fouled by Dylan Fox just outside the penalty area. The resulting cross though was headed over the bar by Carl McHugh.
Prabir Das was one of the bright sparks for ATKMB in a barren half, proving to be an important attacking outlet by playing high up the pitch. Just before the half-hour mark, Krishna spotted Prabir in a dangerous position and nearly found him only for NEUFC keeper Gurmeet Singh to make the save. Then, Das headed wide from a cross by Subhasish Bose.
But the script turned on its head post the restart. It was Krishna yet again, who broke the deadlock, heading in after Tiri flicked on a corner from Edu Garcia. Just seven minutes later, ATKMB doubled their lead, this time off another corner. Lambot tried to deal with another Garcia delivery, only to inadvertently divert it into his own box.
The Highlanders were further pegged back by the goal and struggled to fashion clear-cut chances. Their best attempt on goal came in the 71st minute when Federico Gallego grazed the crossbar with a free-kick. That they only had a single shot on target throughout the match was testament to how comfortably ATKMB saw out the second half.
SC East Bengal finally made the right moves to beat a lacklustre Odisha FC 3-1 and secure their first win in their maiden ISL season in the early kick-off.
In the basement battle, the Red-and-Gold scored through Anthony Pilkington (12th) and Jacques Maghoma (39th) to give them a 2-0 cushion at half- time at the Tilak Maidan.
The Kolkata heavyweights maintained their high intensity before their latest Nigerian recruit Bright Enobakhare sealed the issue with a terrific 88th minute strike.
Odisha FC (two points) pulled one back through Diego Mauricio in the injury time (90+3rd minute), but it was not enough as they suffered a sixth defeat to remain at the bottom of the 11-team table, winless in last eight matches.
(With inputs from ISL Media)